Shichi-go-san is a custom in which three- and five-year-old boys and three- and seven- year-old girls pay their respects to a Shinto shrine and pray for future blessing with thanks for their growth and health. As the ages of seven, five and three are pronounced shichi, go, san in Japanese, the celebration is called Shichi-go-san.
Dressed-up children go to the shrine with their parents.
Chitose-ame, gthousand-year candyh sticks is sold with wishes for their health and safety.
The custom goes back to the celebrations conducted among nobles in the olden times. In the Edo era, it became popular among townspeople and farmers as well as among samurai families.
November 15, when Shichi-go-san is celebrated, is said to be the day when the fifth Tokugawa shogunate, Tsunayoshi, celebrated his son, Tokumatsu. After this event, it seems, the date of Shichi-go-san was settled. Another theory is that the day November 15 is a lucky day for doing anything according to the lunar calendar.
The ages of seven, five and three have long been thought to be very important in the stage of childrenfs growth in Japan. Because of the idea, the following rites of passage were conducted among nobles and samurai families in the olden times. It is not clear whether these rituals were also carried out by ordinary people.
At three:Kamioki (literally eto put hairf)
Children started to grow their hair long
At five:Hakamagi (literally eto wear hakamaf:a long divided skirt-like garment)
Children started to wear hakama
At seven:Obitoki or Himotoki (literally eto untie the codef)
Children started to wear a sash instead of the cord worn with childrenfs kimonos
The ages of three and seven were important stages for childrenfs lives, because at three years babies become infants and at seven infants become older children. There was a proverb that children under seven are children of the gods. The age of seven was a border year in which they are prepared to become part of society.
In olden times when people were poor and had insufficient medical care, parents were very concerned that their children should grow up well and reach each of these stages.
It is in this way that the custom of Shichi-go-san seems to have taken root in society.